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People usually have this problem when they are trying to rescue data files from an old computer, and old PCs often have hardware limitations. Your laptop presumably started out running Windows XP, so there are probably several ways to get at your DOS files, depending on its drives and input/output ports.You could, as you suggest, remove the hard drive and plug it into your desktop PC, possibly via a cheap external hard drive enclosure. But if it means unscrewing lots of tiny screws, it's not something I'd want to do every week, and certainly not every day.What I would have done is partition the hard drive so that the laptop could dual boot into either DOS or Microsoft Windows. Assuming your laptop still has a Windows sticker with a COA
(certificate of authenticity) number, you could create a secondary partition and install Windows alongside the DOS on your primary partition. You could still run your relational databases on DOS.However, you could use a boot manager to run Windows when you wanted to backup your files to an external USB hard drive.

Otherwise, does your IBM laptop have a CD-Rom or DVD drive? If so, the simplest approach would be to boot from a Live Linux disc. This should recognise your old hardware, including the USB ports. Again, this would allow you to copy your files to an external hard drive.
It doesn't much matter which version of Linux you use. Historically, we all used Knoppix, because this was the first Live Linux CD to be widely circulated. Puppy Linux is an alternative for systems that are short of memory.However, I've given up on the numerous versions of Puppy and just use Ubuntu. In my experience, it's much better at recognising and installing hardware, and it doesn't accidentally lose either the trackpad or the keyboard or the Wi-Fi connection or whatever the next time you boot it.Of course, if your laptop doesn't have an optical drive, you can use your desktop PC to create a bootable version of Linux on a USB memory stick instead. Lots of websites have instructions, but Ubuntu's How to create a bootable USB stick on Windows is a good place to start.
You mention that you spent several hours Googling the transfer of DOS files, and I wonder if you tried searching for USB drivers for DOS.
There are some. Georg Potthast sells DOSUSB device drivers that support USB peripherals including, now, USB 3.0. DOSUSB is a little pricey at £71.65 including VAT, but it may well be justifiable as a business purchase.There's also Panasonic's well known but old USBASPI V2.20 MS-DOS Driver, which you can download free from HDD Guru.

(The Panasonic website no longer finds any USBASPI drivers.)Using USBASPI and similar drivers involves editing the config.sys file to set device=himem.sys before loading the driver into high memory with devicehigh=USBASPI.SYS and so on. has an excellent page on DOS USB Drivers
with example configs, links to drivers, and various other suggestions.
Going back to the days before Microsoft Windows 3.0 changed the world, I had other ways to move DOS files between machines. The first was to use a dial-up modem and an FTP (file transfer protocol) program, and this should still work. You probably have an old USB Robotics or similar modem hidden away somewhere, and it should still work, but this is not so much a recommendation, more a last resort.
My preferred method was to use Traveling Software's wonderful LapLink program. This came with both serial and parallel cables in the box, along with a couple of floppy disks and manuals. The software worked much like an FTP program, only the connection was made via one of the short cables provided.If you have two PCs with serial ports and a null modem cable, you could also transfer the files using the free File Maven software instead of LapLink. If your desktop PC does not have a serial port, maybe you could try a USB to serial adapter.Another alternative is to use a LapLink or null modem cable with MS DOS's INTERLNK.EXE and INTERSVR.EXE files. PCXT has a step-by-step guide.

Finally, have you explored the idea of upgrading to a more modern operating system running a free version of something like MySQL or Microsoft's free SQL Express? I recall that some companies spent most of the 1990s screaming about the pain of moving from DOS to Windows, and how their essential applications only ran under DOS, but that seemed to stop when Windows 2000 came out. The NTVDM virtual DOS machine in Windows NT 4.0 and later 32-bit versions no doubt helped, but the world has moved on since 1996.Many of the people who really did have a good use for DOS – and there are some – moved to FreeDOS, which is an open source (GPL) clone of MS-DOS and still being actively developed.But in general, I don't see the point of being a late adopter. You have to move on eventually, so procrastination just means you miss out on the good stuff while storing up pain for the future.A school district in Pennsylvania spied on students through web cameras installed on laptops provided by the district, according to a class action lawsuit filed this week.Lower Merion school district, in a well-heeled suburb of Philadelphia, provided 2,300 high-school students with Mac laptops last autumn in what its superintendent, Christopher McGinley, described as an effort to establish a mobile, 21st-century learning environment.The scheme was funded with $720,000 (£468,000) in state grants and other sources. The students were not allowed to install video games and other software, and were barred from commercial, illegal, unethical and inappropriate use.The district retained remote control of the built-in webcams installed on the computers – and used them to capture images of the students, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court this week.The ruse was revealed when Blake Robbins, a student at Harriton high school, was hauled into the assistant principal Lindy Matsko's office, shown a photograph taken on the laptop in his home and disciplined for improper behaviour.According to Robbins, Matsko said the school had retained the ability to activate the laptop webcams remotely, at any time. Backed by his parents, Robbins filed a lawsuit on behalf of all students provided with laptops by the school.

The suit claims a violation of the privacy and civil rights of the students and their families and accuses officials of violating electronic communications laws by spying on them through indiscriminate use of an ability to remotely activate the webcams incorporated into each laptop.It claims that since the laptops were used by students and their friends and family at home, images of compromising or embarrassing positions, including ... in various states of undress have been captured. A school district spokesman, Douglas Young, did not return a call seeking comment, but told the Philadelphia Inquirer the district was investigating. We're taking it very seriously, he said.In a letter posted on the school district's website, McGinley said the district had installed on the laptops a security feature that allowed the webcam to photograph the computer operator in the event the laptop is lost or stolen. He said that following the suit's filing, the district disabled the feature amidst a review of technology and privacy policies. He said the feature was activated only to help locate a lost or stolen laptop.The district never activated the security feature for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever, he wrote. We regret if this situation has caused any concern or inconvenience among our students and families.hen I need to know something, I can find it out in five minutes, says a 12-year-old in Gateshead. The generation of children aged about 16 or younger have never known a world without the internet. My work over the past decade has shown what exciting things happen when we let these children take learning into their own hands.

In 2006, a few colleagues and I worked out a route out of New Delhi into the heart of rural north-eastern India, avoiding all major urban areas. Two colleagues then drove along this route. Whenever they encountered a primary school, they stopped, administered tests in English, maths and science to the children and conducted a brief interview with the teachers.We then totalled the marks for each school and plotted the result against its distance from Delhi. The unmistakable downward trend was traced to the attitude and quality of teachers in remote areas.There are, and always will be, even in the developed world, places where good teachers do not want to go. How will learners in such areas get an equal opportunity? These areas are not necessarily geographically remote. They may be remote in other ways, for instance, areas in big cities that are socio-economically remote, areas that are religiously or ethnically remote.This is where computers come in. Laptops were created for rich company executives; Microsoft wrote PowerPoint for corporate presentations; LCD projectors were invented for corporate boardrooms. We teachers borrowed this technology, at atrocious prices. The salespeople found a new market and sold to the richest schools in the world. But the richest schools already had good teachers and, mostly, good students.

They judged the corporate technology to be over-hyped and under-performing. Countless people have said that educational technology does not deliver. But it was being tried in the wrong place.I decided to modify and develop technology and take it to some of the remotest locations I could find. Would it survive, and if it did, what would it do for education?Ten years ago, aided by the industrialist Rajendra Pawar, we started to install computers into brick walls in public places in hundreds of villages and slums in India, Cambodia and Africa. The media called this the hole-in-the-wall project.The computers were designed to be used by 6- to 15-year-old children, free of charge and free of any supervision. In the first five years of the experiment, we showed that groups of children can teach themselves to use a computer and the internet, irrespective of who or where they are; irrespective of what language they speak and of whether they go to school or not.Ten years later, a girl in rural Maharashtra is studying aeronautical engineering following her encounter with the computer in the wall. A village boy who became a genetic engineer in one of India's premier laboratories found the subject by reading the New Scientist at his hole in the wall.What else could children learn on their own, apart from the use of computers? In Hyderabad, groups of children showed significant improvements in English pronunciation, with just few hours of practice on their own. They used a computer and a speech-to-text program that had been trained in a native English accent.In the tsunami-hit village of Kalikuppam in southern India, children with access to a hole-in-the-wall computer taught themselves basic biotechnology, reaching a test score of 30% in just two months. They had started with a score of zero. If Tamil-speaking children could teach themselves biotechnology in English, on their own, how far can we go? A 30% score may be impressive, but it's still not a pass. We decided to use a local woman, working for an NGO, to help us go further.


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